Out of this world
By Rachael Oku
If you have a curious mind and a keen interest in science and travel, a career as an intrepid explorer could be on your horizon.
From building a life on Mars to deep-sea investigation, a career in exploration can lead you to a whole new world – roaming the far reaches of Earth and venturing into undiscovered territories to challenge the limits of what we know today.
In 2026, the Mars One mission plans to launch its first team of astronauts on a one-way journey to Mars to establish a human settlement. Hoping to be chosen among the teams is RMIT environmental engineering PhD student Dianne McGrath – one of Mars One’s 100 shortlisted astronaut candidates.
If selected, Dianne will spend the next decade learning essential skills needed to sustain life on Mars. “It’s rare to have the chance to do something so meaningful for humanity,” she says.
“Humans will need three things to successfully survive and thrive: oxygen, water and food,” says UNSW Professor Malcolm Walter, who is funded by NASA to research microbial life in high-temperature ecosystems and the possibility of life on Mars.
At the frontier of ocean exploration
Closer to home, NASA is working with world-leading researchers on its Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory’s (CORAL) mission to record the condition of reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef.
“We want to help scientists understand the reef ecosystem and how it is impacted by the environment,” says reef ecologist Dr Eric Hochberg of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and principal CORAL investigator.
Reef conditions will be measured using an airborne imaging spectrometer, created at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which will collect critical data that will be collated with in-water measurements to provide a detailed analysis of coral reefs.
Modern tech is making it easier for scientists to go deeper into the sea, so they can identify everything from new life forms to potential new medicines derived from marine biology.
Biologists from Temple University in Philadelphia have discovered a strange body of water lying 1 km under the Gulf of Mexico, nicknamed “the jacuzzi of despair” because the water in the crater-like pool rising 3 m from the seabed is toxic to most life.
Surprisingly, it does sustain a few organisms – like bacterial life and shrimp. “We’re looking for new forms of life,” says Associate Professor of Biology at Temple University, Dr Erik Cordes. “The organisms tell us a lot about types of life we might find on other planets.”
This discovery has pushed the boundaries of current deep-sea technology. “Exploring the deep sea is a lot like exploring outer space,” says Erik. “It has the same sense of the unknown, and we can use a lot of the same technologies that we use in space exploration.”
When you combine science with exploration a career of endless discovery awaits.
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Check out some work and study options…
Marine biologist *$54,036
Research Scientist *$77,855
Aerospace Engineer *$73,679
Graduate DIPLOMA of…
Science (Physics and Astronomy), University of Southern Queensland
Applied Science (Marine Environment), University of Tasmania
Science (Space Science and Astrophysics), University of Adelaide
Science (Astronomy and Astrophysics), Macquarie University
Science (Climate and Weather), University of Melbourne
Marine and Antarctic Science, University of Tasmania
Author: STEM Contributor
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